Being a Catholic Feminist doesn’t mean being pro-choice or demanding women to be allowed into the priesthood. It doesn’t mean you look at Church hierarchy, teaching, or history as the enemy. It is possible to be Catholic and a Feminist, but not in the way that women like The Guardian’s Kristina Keneally says.
Catholic- A Catholic is a follower of Jesus Christ who not only assents to the tenants of the creeds, but does so in union with the Chair of Peter in Rome. She is part of a long history of Church leaders, saints, scholars, and sinners stretching all the way back to that manger in Bethlehem on that silent night. This means so much more than a simple belief in the Trinity. This means the participation in and an appreciation for the 7 Sacraments. This means an obedience to the authority of the Church in issues of dogma and doctrine. It means yet other things far and beyond the scope of this simple definition.
Feminist- A Feminist is a person who takes seriously the plight of women and works to make women’s lives better. She believes that all human beings have an intrinsic dignity. They all have an equal right to life, respect, and freedom. Historically, women have been seen as second class citizens. Even today in many parts of the world this is still true. It is an insult to all of humanity when one part of the human family is subjugated.
What I want from the Church:
Slowly but surely, the Church is opening to the voices of women. It has always been somewhat open as evidenced by the scores of women saints, including some, like Mary MacKillop, who weren’t always quiet, good little girls in life. Women were invited to Vatican II. Our current pope has frequently voiced his disapproval of the lack of female theologians.
For a 2000-year-old institution with 1.2 billion of members worldwide, you can’t expect change overnight, nor would it be desirable. We saw the droves of Catholics who left after the changes of Vatican II.
Nor can you want something as beautiful as the Church to change so as to loose her soul. The Church is meant to be a sign of contradiction in a fleeting, materialistic world. The Church is not supposed to conform to me and my wishes, I am supposed to conform to her.
Next week you will see my “Feminist Case Against Womenpriests,” so I cannot go into to much depth here. Like the Pope, I want to see more women theologians (in communion with Rome) in high positions on commissions and in offices throughout the Church. I want to see those feminine voices abandon hopeless and pointless causes, but give themselves to more worthy causes like shedding light on women’s contributions to the Church and informing priests of issues important to women like the fight against domestic violence.
Women need to help one another recognize their worth. We don’t need sterile sex to be equal. We don’t need the “right” to kill the unborn to be equal. We DO need our bodies to be respected and adored as God’s creation. We DO need a society and a church that respects the awesome power we have to create and nurture life. We DO need a society and a church that gives us equality without making us all indistinguishable.
As I said in a recent post:
Let’s RESPECT women.
I am a Catholic Feminist and my Church needs me now more than ever. “Feminism” is increasingly seen as a dirty word, and therefore worthy feminist causes are thrown out with the the rest of the perceived philosophy. Do not throw the baby out with the bath water! Don’t ignore me just because I embrace a dirty word that you do not understand.
On the other side of the coin, the Catholic Church has also seen better PR days. The Church needs more, better, and varied voices speaking up for the Truth. The Truth isn’t always pretty. It is almost always against the tide of society. But it is what it is and women are just as qualified and responsible as men to teach it.